Love.Fish inserts some much-needed bang-for-your-buck into Barangaroo. It’s a second restaurant for owners Michael Milkovic and Michelle Grand-Milkovic, one that builds upon their experience at the former Rozelle seafood eatery by the same name.
Their next-gen Barangaroo restaurant has all the trappings of a fancy night out - seafood, a slick Anthony Gill Architects fit-out, water views – without the hefty price tag.
What’s more, these savvy restaurateurs demonstrate admirably that mid-range diners can affordably scratch ethical seafood eating philosophies too.
Claiming a front row seat drenched in golden late afternoon light, we settle in with NSW Hand Dived Urchin ($18) served just as you’ll find it in the shell, bar for a little bit of cleaning.
We smear the generous fat lobes of red sea urchin onto toast with a squeeze of fresh lemon and a pinch of crisp sea salt.
Eaten outdoors in the fresh sea air, it feels like a real treat, especially against sips of the 2018 Irvine Spring Hill Riesling ($13/glass). Recommended by earnest Restaurant Manager Paul Johndei Cabading, the wine neatly rewrites what you know about acidity and Riesling using pretty floral notes and white nectarine.
As we work our way through a pretty Pink Snapper Crudo ($22) involving long ribbons of carrot and daikon radish, with dashi with some seaweed intrigue, we’re kept entertained by a bold seagull’s daring raid upon the next table.
After graduating from Circular Quay McDonalds, honing his skills taking cheeseburgers from unsuspecting tourists, this thug life seagull mugger has moved onto bigger and better things.
In one fell swoop, he neatly liberates a Balmain bug from the top level of our neighbours’ seafood platter.
While staff rustle them up a new one, we join forces with them in front line serviette flapping restaurant defense. Mostly because we don't want to give up a mouthful of cured Port Lincoln Sardine Fillets ($17). Sitting in a vivid green pool of dill and olive oil, these shiny, oily fishes are delicious, and a far cry from the canned sardines you might have grown up with.
Sea Urchin Taramasalata ($18) is a stroke of kitchen genius, adapting the Greek meze usually made from tarama (salted cured cod roe) to use up any fresh urchin roe that doesn’t immediately sell.
Along with Clarence River School Prawns ($18), it makes for a compelling drinking snack, eaten with crudités, bread or even smeared on the crunchy little school prawns.
With provenance indicated on the menu, fish, running from Northern Territory Humpty Doo Barramundi to locally caught garfish, come pretty much as they are. What sides you choose to eat them with, are completely up to you. We opted to share the most expensive fish – a rainbow trout, their Hot Smoked Whole Rainbow Trout ($38) – between two. As a special, this one came with a sharply dressed radicchio, fennel, pink grapefruit and pomegranate salad that helped to reset the palate after forays into the juicy, wet and smoky fish.
We added on a couple of generously proportioned sides – a pretty Heirloom Tomato Salad ($14) laid over light lemony ricotta, and Brussels Sprouts ($14) flash-fried then treated with oyster sauce, soy sauce and black pepper, cleverly counterbalanced by carrot puree – and had more than we could finish.
What I loved about Love.Fish is they take less sexy fish, like Spanish mackerel and garfish, and show diners what they can do. While this restaurant is firmly pitched at the midrange, it doesn’t skimp on the trappings. Even the house white, the 2016 Love.Fish ‘The White’ ($17/glass), is a very drinkable pinot blanc viognier blend, chosen with obvious care.
I predict you’ll leave Love.Fish smiling, with a sense of proportionality between your spend and what is delivered - something that's all too rare in Barangaroo.
7/23 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo
Ph: (02) 8077 3700